Since I cook and serve low fat and unprocessed foods most of the time an occasional exception to that practice is, literally, okay in my book.
Two foods in particular are hard for me to pass up when prepared to my taste. The first is French fries. I like the super-thin and crunchy shoestring type. The second is fried chicken. The types available in fast food restaurants that are submerged in deep fryers don’t appeal to my taste buds. But good old-fashioned, home-made fried chicken can be out of this world. Since today is Fried Chicken Day, I’m frying chicken for dinner using a hybrid of recipes and techniques I’ve cobbled together over the years. The resulting chicken is crispy, crunchy, and juicy.
I accidentally discovered a great way to make light breading increase in volume when I misread a recipe years ago and added tablespoons instead of teaspoons of baking powder to the bowl. It resulted in a light and substantial coating to the chicken that browned up nicely. I use this basic breading for both poultry and fish, and then add spices as the mood or protein suits:
· 1 C All-purpose Flour
· 3 Tbsp Baking Powder
· 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
· 1 tsp Chili Powder
· Salt and Pepper to taste
Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ground thyme, and ground cumin can all make nice additions.
Some people soak chicken pieces in milk or buttermilk before dredging in the breading mixture; others use a beaten egg. I just rinse my chicken in cold water, gently pat it dry, and shake the slightly damp pieces in a ziplock bag with the breading mixture. It adheres perfectly well and leaves no bald spots.
I use olive oil for my fat because it’s healthier than other types. And rather than submerge the chicken I let a small amount of oil—about 3 Tbsp get very hot and then quickly seal the juices in and the breading on to the chicken pieces. I slide them into the pan and turn them quickly to brown all sides. Then, I reduce the heat and complete the cooking process over medium temperature. Starting with very hot oil prevents the chicken pieces from becoming saturated with oil and prevents sticking. Once its cooked I let the chicken cool on paper towels so they absorb excess oil.
This chicken tastes delicious hot off of the stove or cooled for lunchtime leftovers or picnics. If you try it, let me know how you like it, or share your own fried chicken recipe with readers.